Demanding adequate safety at workplace, nurses and other working women groups in the Capital have appealed to the Union Government to conduct regular safety audit of workplaces. They have also demanded that the Government ensure safe public/private transport for women workers.

The Centre for Struggling Women and the Nurses’ Welfare Association have sought government intervention to also look into strict regulation of work hours/shifts, creation of a safe atmosphere in and around the workplace and provision of written work contracts for all (even contractual and daily-wage) employees including women.

Nurses’ Welfare Association’s Tangama said: “It is through regular safety audits that the government can assess whether such essential work conditions exist in workplaces or not. We strongly believe that existing laws regulating workplaces need to be re-assessed. There are several complaints of nurses being harassed by patients’ visitors, as well as male hospital staffers. However, we feel that such sexual harassment is made worse by the fact that most of us are in highly exploitative work contracts.”

Stating that many private hospitals even in the Capital force their nursing staff to work extra shifts, do overtime and do not at the same time provide for something as basic as transportation to their women employees, Ms. Tangama said this trend is indicative of the conscious ways in which hospital managements’ are putting their women work force at continuous risk.

Physically threatened

In the recent strikes in hospitals including Asian Institute of Medical Sciences (Faridabad) and Sharda Hospital (Greater Noida), private (male) security guards entered the nurses’ hostel attached to the hospital and physically threatened many of them who were on strike, said Centre for Struggling Women’s Maya John.

“In such cases, the local administration and local police station have proved to be very lax in their response and are, more often than not, seen washing their hands off dangerous situations where the safety of working women is constantly at risk,” she noted.

Stating that the young physiotherapy student’s brutal rape and murder in Delhi while travelling in a private bus was an example of the risk that working women are exposed to, the groups have demanded better managed and more accountable public transport.

“Moreover, in the light of how unregulated private transportation is in the Delhi-NCR region, working women across the city strongly feel that it should be made mandatory for all employers (private offices, hospitals, factories, etc.) and not just for owners of call centres to provide safe transport for their women employees,” said Ms. John.

The group has also highlighted the issue of regulating the functioning of police stations as one of major concern to women across the city. “It is necessary that registering of FIRs and placing of police stations under CCTV surveillance becomes a non-negotiable demand. The fact that many women, including those who face sexual harassment at home or workplaces on a daily basis, are still afraid to file complaints with the police or have been turned away by police stations is a serious problem that has to be addressed immediately,” noted a statement issued by the group.

More In: Delhi